May They Find Us Faithful

Many years ago, when my children were little I heard Steve Green sing these words:

“Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.”

Those words stuck with me while we were raising our children, but I think that now, as a grandparent, they instruct me in the way I am to interact with my grandchildren. And the timing seems much more urgent. My oldest grandchild is almost five years old. In another eight years or so, her beliefs about God for the rest of her life will be pretty much established.

Eight years passes by with frightening speed.

So, what can we do to make sure that we leave footprints for them to follow?

1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.

Sounds kind of scriptural, right? If our love for God is not real and strong and devoted, it won’t last and it won’t be obvious to our children. You know how it is – you can preach and preach to your family, but if they don’t see it modeled, you might as well preach to a rock.

I always think of Paul when I think of modeling the Christian faith. Everywhere he went he was genuine and unashamed of his love for the God who had changed him.

Just one example – read the words he wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy.

“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

2 Timothy 1:12b-13

After Paul reminded Timothy of his own faith, he was able to instruct Timothy to listen to his words and to follow in his footsteps.

2. Keep your memories of God’s power in your life fresh.

We all have stories of what God has done in our lives – how He saved us; how He has provided for us; how He has made us strong enough for trials – all kinds of stories. The Israelites who were brought out of Egypt had stories too – stories that God expected them to tell to their children.

Take the crossing of the Red Sea, for example. If you had experienced such a thing – tons of water pushed back by an invisible hand, walking through the sea on dry land, and then watching your enemies destroyed when the waters were allowed to rush back – would you have had any doubts about the power of God?

“Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.”

Exodus 14:31

And would you ever have stopped talking about what you had seen God do?

And yet they did stop talking about it.

And a generation grew up who didn’t even know the story. A generation who did not serve the one, true, living God.

God has given you stories and you need to be telling them to your family.

3. Pray

Pray for yourself to really know and love the one true God.

Pray that God would keep you faithful.

Pray that God would shine the light through you to your family and those around you.

Pray that those who come behind you would follow as Timothy followed his mentor, Paul, and his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois.

Pray, remembering that it is God who is faithful to complete the good work He has begun in all of us.

Never Leaves, Never Abandons

Me? I am, as the hymn says, prone to wander. I leave the path. I abandon my good intentions.

God? Never!

No matter what I do or don’t do.

He never leaves me; never abandons me.

No matter if I leave my first love.

He never leaves me; never abandons me; never stops loving me.

No matter if I forget to pray; forget to listen.

He never leaves me; never abandons me; never stops calling me back.

No matter if I turn and run away.

He never leaves me; never abandons me; never closes the door to me.

Never leaves; never abandons…

Always stays; always holds…

Always loves.

 

Today I’m joining a wonderful group of writers over at Five Minute Friday – writing for five minutes on a different prompt word every week. Come on over and join in!

 

photography from Unsplash

Hiding From God

If I could go back to that moment, would I make a different decision? I’ve thought about it a lot and I think I would. Or…am I just hiding behind a facade of pious thoughts?

Heaven knows I’ve done my share of hiding since that day…

I remember that day as if it was just yesterday. A lovely morning…of course, they were all lovely mornings. I didn’t know back then just how lovely our garden was – how completely perfect it was. I wish…well, of course, I wish we could go back, but it’s not to be. All because of that minute in time when I listened to some pretty lies and made the wrong decision.

Sometimes I wake up early in the morning with bits and pieces of memories of that day swirling up out of my dreams – nightmares really. The beautiful tree…the glistening scales of the serpent…the dewy skin of the fruit…the deadly words that seemed like those of an angel. The pictures in my mind make me want to run away and hide. I’ll never escape that memory…never get away from the shame.

I wish…oh, how I wish I could relive that day and change it. But I can’t. I swallowed the false, traitorous, deceptive words and then the fruit.

And, for the first time in my life, all I wanted to do was hide. And I did. I hid behind my husband. I convinced him to eat too and then I was able to hide behind him.

The relief was short-lived. The Lord had come into our garden and was looking for us. Everything that we had done was going to be completely exposed and naked to Him. We had to hide. We couldn’t let Him see this dark decay that had come over us. We ran. We did our best to hide ourselves, but I think we both knew that there was no hope.

I remember crouching in the bushes, my heart beating wildly. And what did I think? I’m ashamed to say that I thought maybe the Lord would focus on my husband. Maybe He wouldn’t notice me and my sin. Maybe I would be able to hide after all.

Foolishness! The Lord already knew where we were and He already knew what we had done. Of course He did. Just as He had warned us, there was a penalty to pay for our disobedience. Exiled from our garden. Cast out into the unknown. Exposed to evil and pain and hardship we had never even known existed. But in that moment when our sentence was handed down and the impulse to hide was stronger than ever, the Lord did something I’ll never forget.

He took one of his beloved animals and killed it. We had never seen anything die. It seemed to have fallen asleep until we saw the blood and we saw Him tear the skin from it. I cried out and my husband gasped in horror. And then He created garments for both of us.

My nakedness was hidden, but the hiding was different. In that fearful act of killing His creation and using it for me, I saw the Lord’s incredible love for me. Life was turning upside down, but I would always know that the Lord loved me.

In the years to come there would be more times when I wanted to hide myself and my sin, but I would always be able to return to the truth that my Lord loved me.

The Lord from whom I cannot hide loves me!

 

“Hiding From God” is the first in a new series – “Through Her Eyes” – stories of women of the Bible told in their voices filtered through my imagination.

 

photography from CreationSwap and Unsplash

Your Purpose

Paul has become one of my favorite Bible heroes mostly because he knew his purpose in life and he was determined to fulfill that purpose even if it required his life.

Ananias, the startled and shocked disciple from Damascus, was the first to hear Paul’s purpose and he heard it straight from the mouth of God. “…he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”  Acts 9:15b, 16

From the very beginning…before Paul had ever even figured out what had happened to him on the road to Damascus, God made known His clear purpose for Paul and the price he would be required to pay to fulfill it.

Paul knew that purpose and declared it over and over again.

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”  Romans 1:1, 5b, 6

“Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus..” 1 Corinthians 1:1a

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” 2 Corinthians 1:1a

“Paul, an apostle – not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father…” Galatians 1:1a

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.” 1 Timothy 1:1

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:1

“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth…through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.” Titus 1:1a, 3b

Paul confidently declared that his purpose on earth was to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles. He did not choose this path. God chose it for him. He did not train for this path. God trained him for it. He did not have the strength for this path. God gave him His own strength.

And what about you and me?

Are we looking for God’s purpose for us or are we too busy fulfilling our own desires?

Are we making excuses? I’m not trained…I don’t have the strength…

Are we afraid of what might happen if we begin to fulfill His purpose for us? Loss of friends? Ridicule? Persecution? Danger?

Ask yourself this – “Is the God who equipped and empowered Paul to fulfill His purpose the same God who has given you a purpose  and who stands ready to equip and strengthen you for the work?”

You know He is.

Stop delaying and making excuses. Just say yes to His purpose and buckle up for the ride!

 

Today I’m joining up with lots of other writers for Five Minute Friday at katemotaung.com. Come and join us!

Photography from CreationSwap

 

 

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